Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: media

Guns, Violence and Journalistic Integrity

Sunday night there were a number of watch parties going on in the DFW area. It was the first game of the regular season for the Dallas Cowboys. Zeke Elliott was playing, after weeks of uncertainty. Dak Prescott was starting his second season at quarterback and everyone waited anxiously to see if he could continue the magic of his rookie year. Added to that was the fact the ‘Boys were playing their arch rivals, the New York Giants. Unfortunately, one of those parties exploded in a hail of bullets that left, as of this morning, 9 dead. Cue the media to start yet another round of calls for gun control and cue the local media to forget all about journalistic integrity and identify the shooter even though his name has not yet been released by the authorities.

Let’s start with the latter first. Only one of the victims has been identified so far. She was the owner of the house. Her mother has claimed to the media that the shooter was her estranged husband. That is the only information we have so far and yet the media has been running with it. A local columnist has used this alleged identification as the basis for an op-ed piece calling for more gun control because we can’t let guns get into the hands of folks who might have anger issues.

There was a time when the media wouldn’t identify a victim — or a suspect — until that identification was verified by the authorities. It certainly wouldn’t identify someone killed, whether in an accident or as the result of a crime. It was part taking the time to make sure the facts of the incident were confirmed and part because it was the decent thing to do. They gave time to the authorities to notify the family of the person killed. But I guess that’s no longer a consideration in this day and age of reporters not reporting the news but wanting to shape it and make it. To hell with the emotional toll such actions might take on family members who had nothing to do with what happened.

Well, to hell with these so-called journalists.

Moving on. I start getting concerned when people want to limit the right to own, much less carry, a gun because of the possibility someone might have anger issues. How is this possibility supposed to be judged? More importantly, who is supposed to make this assessment? To limit a right based on something that might happen at some point in the future based on some set of circumstances that might never occur is not only foolish, it’s unreasonable.

But let’s be honest, this is simply another way the anti-gun faction wants to limit gun ownership. At least this particular columnist finally turned her post into the need to address impulse control and anger issues. But all too many will take what happened in Plano to argue that anyone going through a divorce shouldn’t be allowed access to guns or to argue that everyone wanting to buy a gun go through psychological evaluations.

Not only no but hell no.

The media needs to take a step back — maybe several, especially if a tall cliff is involved — and remember what it is there to do. Unless it is an editorial, they are there to report the news. They should pride themselves on presenting the facts in a fair and unbiased way. Reporters should report and not be part of the news. They should help us shape opinions based on facts and not on their own personal biases.

Newspapers and network news wonders why they are losing followers. It’s simple. We are tired of being shown slanted views of events. We are tired of being considered too stupid to know what is happening. With so many new ways to find out what’s happening in the world, the media should be adapting instead of digging its heels in. Of course, considering it is the twin to traditional publishing, their approach doesn’t surprise me. All I can say is that they will continue to lose viewers and readers until they once again put facts above opinion, integrity above attempting to manipulate the issues.

Grow up, news media, or go home.

Head, meet desk

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two days, you’ve probably heard more about the United Airlines kerfluffle than you ever wanted to know. It’s a given that the incident in Chicago is a public perception nightmare for the airline. No one, at least none that I know of, thinks the airline handled the original situation or the pr nightmare that followed in anything close to the right way. However, that’s not what this post is about — at least not completely.

Yesterday, as well as the day before, I blogged about how we need to be careful about what we do and say on social media. Those posts were mainly about how authors and editors present themselves to the reading public and to potential clients. Today’s post, however, comes via a series of comments in response to a FB post made by a friend of mine.

Now the post itself wasn’t that much different from many others I’ve seen over the last 24 hours or so. My friend discussed what happened on the flight and then talked about how the media not only named the passenger involved but how some outlets were attempting to smear his name in what looked like an attempt to make United appear to be the wronged party instead of the other way around. At some point, Sarah — and others — made the comment that they felt United might have been behind leaking the passenger’s name to the press.

And that is where the idiocy from a third-party came in. You see, this person read an opinion as a statement of fact and got all hot and bothered, demanding sources for such an outrageous statement. It didn’t matter that the people making it said it was their opinion. They had said it and he wanted proof.

No matter what anyone said, no matter how they tried to approach the situation, he kept wanting sources cited.

Now remember, this is in response to a personal opinion on FB, not a story released by a major media outlet. It was an opinion based on personal experience, on the reading and listening to a number of different sources reporting on the incident and more.

What gets me about how this person dug in and refused to let go of the demand for a source to back up the personal opinion is how they continue to ignore the fact that opinions and decisions are made all the time based on information from a number of different sources and that is colored through the lens of personal opinion. It is rare when we can point to something and say “THIS!” is the reason why something happened and have that, whatever it is, be the only factor involved.

In this particular case, I can see how United very well might have been the source of the leak of the passenger’s name to the media. After all, they knew who they had “picked” to be removed from the plane because they needed four seats for crew members. They knew who they had told security to remove. They knew who had tried to reboard and who had to be removed again. In other words, it all begins with United.

Now, it is also possible the security team leaked the man’s identity. However, usually when the media gets a suspect’s name from law enforcement, they tell us something along the lines of “as identified by”. I have seen none of that so far. In fact, the media is excruciatingly silent on how they identified the passenger.

One of the possible explanations thrown out by the person taking umbrage to the opinion United might have been involved was that the passenger had been in the news before and someone local might have recognized him and called the media to make the ID. Again, where is the confirmation of this. Media outlets aren’t hesitant to let us know how they came to identify someone — unless their source doesn’t want to be named. Then it is “an unnamed source” in the report.

Considering how some of the media reports have been trying to pain the passenger as being a “bad” person based on past behavior — which has nothing to do with what happened — I doubt a member of the reading/viewing public made the ID. No, this smacks of someone either at United or with airport security telling the press who the passenger was and the press trying to pain the airline in the best possible light by digging up events from the doctor’s life that had nothing to do with what happened onboard that jet.

So here’s the thing. While the person was demanding everyone give sources for their OPINION United was behind leaking the passenger’s name, he had no problem bringing up other scenarios about how it could have happened — without offering proof. Worse, and what brought about this post, was his inability or whatever to actually discuss the issue. He dug his heels in and wouldn’t let go.

Now, I love me a good debate. I’ve even been known to dig my heels in a time or two. But I also know I have to listen to what the other side is saying and make sure I understand their position. If they ask a question, I need to be prepared to answer it — not ignore it and continue to hold to my position without wavering. Hell, I have to be ready to admit I might be wrong or I might have misunderstood the original premise.

That is especially true when dealing with social media. One of my biggest pet peeves about it — and with email, texting and the like — is that we don’t get the human interaction. We see only words, not inflection or facial expression. What we might mean one way can be easily interpreted another because the person reading our words don’t see us or hear us as we speak them. They are nothing but words on the screen and in social media we tend to take shortcuts that don’t help get the real message across.

There is another thing to consider. If most of the commenters in a thread are taking you to task for something, whether you are right or wrong, you have to ask yourself if it is worth your time to keep coming back to the thread and trying to justify what you said. It is so very easy to fall down the time pit that is social media as it is. Do any of us need to add to the time we spend there?

In other words, think before you hit enter. Make sure you understand what someone said and ask for clarification if you don’t. Don’t waste time if the person has shown themselves to be incapable of engaging in discussion. And, most of all, follow Jim Baen’s main rule for Baen’s Bar — Don’t be a butthead.

Media rigging?

Before I get started this morning, I want to thank everyone for their support of Witchfire Burning (Eerie Side of the Tracks Book 1). It was a fun book to write and I’m looking forward to being able to get back to the series. For those of you who are asking, right now it looks like the second novel will be published toward the end of the second quarter of next year. I’ll update when I have more specifics about that. However, don’t forget that Skeletons in the Closet, the first of three novellas set in Eerie Side of the Tracks universe will be published October 25th, just a few short days from now.

In the news this morning, the ABC talking heads were going on and on about how Trump wants to cancel Saturday Night Live over their satirical skits featuring Alec Baldwin as the combover. It seems Trump took to Twitter — I know, big surprise there. I swear that man and his staff live on Twitter — with this comment:

Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me.Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!

Now, before I get to what the talking heads were really claiming, let’s look at the tweet itself. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see anything really bad in Trump saying it is “time to retire” the show. Hell, I’ve thought it on more than one occasion over the last 10 or more years. What gets me is that the talking heads have no problem with the show saying what it wants to but heaven forbid Trump — or anyone else who doesn’t fall into lockstep with them — saying anything different.

But the heart of the complaint against Trump in this particular story was his allegation that the media is rigging the election. I swear, if you go back and listen to the talking heads, they condemn him for not offering any proof that the media is doing just that. I’m sorry, but all you have to do is look at what they are reporting and how they report it to know there is a media bias in this election. Now, that’s nothing new. I’ve been voting for more years than I will admit and in each presidential election the media has attempted to sway the outcome.

And it isn’t just with the stories they post or print or televise prior to the election. Those of us old enough to remember can think back to the days when the media would start calling the outcome of presidential election on voting day long before the polls on the west coast had closed. The effect of that was to keep those who might have been considering voting for the “losing” candidate home. After much hue and cry, the networks have adjusted when they start calling the election but not by much.

I’m not sure when the media decided its job was to be the news and to make the news, but what we have now is a far cry from fair and impartial reporting. Yes, the mainstream media is, on the whole, doing its best to rig the election for Clinton. Why else are there no really in-depth and hard-hitting stories about the Clinton Foundation, the emails she erased, lost or whatever or Benghazi? Why aren’t the reporters digging into the Bill Clinton White House years, interviewing staff to find out how Hillary acted back then, how she treated the staff? Why aren’t they pulling up the soundbites of Michelle Obama and her attacks on Hillary because of how Hillary supported Bill instead of his victims? Funny how we’re not seeing any of that.

But that’s not to say there isn’t another sector of the media doing the same regarding Trump. There is.

So what are we, as voters and, hopefully, informed citizens supposed to do? Let’s start by using our brains. I know, all too many would rather let someone else do the thinking for them. Sorry, but I’m not like that. If you tell me how I should think or act or vote, I’m very likely to dig my heels in and tell you to go fuck yourself. I will decide what to do based on what is best for me, my family and those I care about. When it comes to voting, I will do the same thing, adding my city, state and nation in as well.

That means I look at as many different versions of the same story as I can. Each version will have a hint of truth and a lot of misdirection in it. It is up to me to figure out what is truth and what isn’t. Apply a bit of critical thinking helps here — of course, our schools aren’t necessarily teaching our kids how to think critically. So it is up to us to make sure the next generation — well, let’s be honest, it may be our grandchildren’s generation because the schools have done a number on too many of our kids — knows how to think critically, how to ask the hard questions and how not to go away until the answers have been given.

How do we save the country? We get involved. Instead of just beating our chests and crying that the sky is falling, we get up off our asses and we do something. We vote out those who have failed to represent our cities, states, districts, whatever to the best interests of the electorate. We let our voices be heard for once instead of being that silent majority that sits back and lets a handful of loudmouths sway things. We hold our politicians accountable for their actions. That is not only on the federal and state level but locally as well.

What we don’t do is give up. Every time we say the nation is lost and everything would be better if it just burned to the ground, we are playing into the hands of the other side. How? By giving them encouragement to continue doing what they’ve been doing. By telling those who might not be ready to throw in the towel that they will not have anyone watching their backs.

I don’t know about you but I still think this country is worth fighting for. Yes, the major party candidates for president suck big time. But they represent only one of the three prongs of government. Take a close look at who will best represent you, your values, your district and state’s interested and vote for that candidate. They hold the check and balance when it comes to presidential appointments. They hold the power when it comes to the purse strings. They hold the power when it comes to overturning vetoes and countering executive orders. In other words, quit being so fucking hung up on who might be president and worry about the 435 representatives and 100 senators sitting up on Capital Hill.


Once again, I want to thank everyone for your support of  Witchfire Burning (Eerie Side of the Tracks Book 1).

Long before the Others made their existence known to the world, Mossy Creek was their haven. Being from the wrong side of the tracks meant you weren’t what the rest of the world considered “normal”.

Normal was all Quinn O’Donnell wanted from life. Growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, she had been the only normal in the family. The moment she was old enough, she left and began life as far from her Texas hometown as possible. Now she has a job she enjoys and a daughter she loves more than life itself. Their life is normal, REALLY normal, until her daughter starts calling forth fire and wind.

Quinn knows they must go back so her mother can help five-year-old Ali learn how to control her new talents. But in Mossy Creek nothing is ever simple. Quinn’s mother has gone missing. Secrets from Quinn’s past start coming back to haunt her.

And the family home is more than a little sentient.

Can Quinn keep everyone — particularly Ali — safe? And will she ever get back her illusion of normalcy?

Witchfire Burning is the start of a new series. However, it takes place in the same town as Slay Bells Ring and some of the same characters are present in both. Both have a little bit of mystery and a little bit of romance. Witchfire adds in an urban fantasy note as well. While it wasn’t a book I had planned when I sat down at the beginning of they year to figure out my publication schedule, it’s one that decided it needed to be written and I had a blast doing it. I hope you guys all enjoy reading about Quinn and company as much as I enjoyed writing about them. Also, for those who prefer print versions, it should be available in approximately two weeks. I’ll make an announcement when that version is ready.


Where is the outrage?

I have really tried to stay out of the political fray. However, it gets harder and harder with each day that passes. I dislike both major candidates, if for different reasons. When you find yourself looking at their running mates to see if there are any redeeming qualities, you know it is a sad election year. But what has really bothered me of late is the double standard that exists, not only where the candidates are concerned but where their supporters are concerned as well.

What started me thinking about this — again — were two things I saw this morning. One was on the news and another came across my Facebook feed. The first was a leaked email from the Clinton camp where one of her advisers suggested she go after three “needy Latino” political figures, including the former governor of New Mexico. Then there are the comments, again from her staff members, about the Catholic faith and more. Yet, instead of outrage from the pundits about what what was said in these leaked emails, instead of calls from the Democratic leadership for Clinton to deal with her staffers and to apologize for what was said and the attitude it shows occurring in her campaign, we see little reporting on the matter. We hear from her campaign that there is no way to verify the veracity of the emails because if the email can be hacked it can be altered. Funny, the same thing could be said about videos, especially old videos.

So where is the outrage?

The second instance that had me thinking about the double standard deals with that bastion of feminism, “The View”. In particular, is deals with Joy Behar and comments she made Monday on the show. For those who aren’t familiar with the show, Behar or its political leanings, “The View” has long been dominated by liberals. Sometimes they manage to find a conservative to sit on their panel but those folks don’t tend to last more than a few seasons. Not that I blame them when Behar and, earlier, Rosie O’Donnell made life miserable for them whenever politics came up. It was during Rosie’s first tenure on the show that she and Trump had their big blowup.

So it shouldn’t be any surprise that, following Sunday’s debate, the women of The View had to talk about it. Where my question about outrage comes in deals with what Behar had to say. Following one of the other hosts, Sunny Hostin, suggested that Clinton had missed an opportunity to discuss the issue of sexual harassment and sexual assault. It is possible (I haven’t seen the full clip to be sure), Hostin even meant Clinton missed the opportunity to discuss the issues within the context of the accusations against Bill Clinton. Behar, in response, said Hillary could have responded, “’I would like to apologize to those tramps that have slept with my husband.’ Maybe she could have said that.”

Tramps. Wow, not exactly what you would expect a liberal feminist to say about a woman who is the alleged victim of sexual assault. Yet she said it. So where was the outrage in the media? Can you imagine how the media would have reacted had a conservative comic said the same thing, especially if said comic was male? Yet, other than some response on social media, the only sound out there was of crickets chirping. No outrage, nothing.

Now, someone must have taken Behar aside because she did issue an apology of sorts. According to her, it was a “joke” that failed. Duh. But again, why can she get away with that sort of “joke” and others can’t? The answer is simple, there is one set of rules for the left and another for everyone else.

What they don’t understand is that people aren’t, on a whole, as gullible as they think. Sure, there was a time when a lot of people believed everything they read or heard from MSM. But that was before the internet. Before everyone had smartphones. Before people started getting their news from other sources. It isn’t as easy as it once was to control the dissemination of information.

This is a lesson the MSM has yet to learn. It still wonders why circulations are down, why ad revenue is down and why people are turning to other sources for their information. The election coverage is a prime example of it. We see the bias in the media. We see what the media is trying to do. So we look elsewhere for our information. Sure, if we’re smart, we will continue to monitor the media because it tells us what the current agenda happens to be. It’s only smart to know your enemy’s goal. That lets you plan how best to counter it.

Do I think Trump should get a free ride for being a boor, a cad and, allegedly, a sexual predator? Hell no. But I also think the same should apply to Clinton. Why is the media digging as hard as they can to find anything it can use against Trump — be it sex, Trump U, or anything else — and not digging equally as hard where Clinton is concerned? I know the answer as well as you do but unless we ask it long and loud, the media will continue trying to paint the picture it wants instead of reporting the news. Of course, it may already be so corrupt — hell, let’s face it, it probably is too late for the MSM — it will never go back to reporting the news instead of trying to create the news. But we have the power where the media is concerned. We can choose not to read the papers, not to watch the newscasts and to continue getting our information from various sources. It is our duty to then check the sources against one another, gleaning out what is fact and what is fiction.

It is our duty to ask “where’s the outrage?”. I’m asking. Are you?

How the media frames a story

As I sit here watching the morning news, I can only shake my head over the events that have been happening in Charlotte. I’m not going to comment on whether or not the police were justified in shooting Keith Lamont Scott. Why I’m withholding comment is simple: I want to see the bodycam videos of the incident. When I do, I will be able to make a more informed opinion than I can now. However, that doesn’t prevent me from commenting on the events from last night and the media coverage of it.

The first thing that captured my attention in the coverage of the story was the opening soundbite by one of those taking part in the protest that last night’s events had been a “peaceful” protest. Yes, it might have started out that way but it was not how it ended. A peaceful protest does not have one protester shooting another. A peaceful protest does not have windows smashed and stores looted. A peaceful protest is, well, peaceful.

What really had me shaking my head and wondering how the reporter managed to say her lines with a straight face was when she described an upcoming piece of video where, according to her, another reporter was knocked down by a protester fleeing the tear gas. The only problem is the video didn’t back up what she said. The camera was focused on the reporter in question and, behind him, one person passed and then another came into the shot and very calmly came up and “bumped” him hard enough to take him down. There was plenty of room to go around the reporter. It wasn’t as if the immediate area was crowded. Nope. This was a case that, at least from that particular clip, showed one person intentionally running into and knocking down another. Yet that would not fit the narrative the reporter telling the story wanted, so she added facts (and I’m using that term loosely) to make it seem like things were something they weren’t.

Does this mean I think the protests should stop?

No. One of the strengths of this country is that we have the right to assemble and the right of free speech. However, neither of those rights translate into the “right to pillage and plunder” which is what happened in Charlotte last night. It is what has happened in other cities as well. When businesses are looted, when private property is destroyed, that is no longer protesting. That is criminal activity.

I live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. If you think I, along with thousands of others, didn’t have concerns and second thoughts when a protest was planned for Downtown Dallas just weeks after the ambush of our police officers during another protest, you’re wrong. However, I applaud the mayor and police chief, as well as their advisers and the organizers of the protest march for making sure nothing happened. It was a peaceful protest.

Note the word peaceful.

It still managed to bring attention to the concern of the organizers on the number of Black lives lost in encounters with police, whether it be by shooting or something else. It also brought attention to the number of police officers who are injured or killed when they are attacked. It brought about a dialog about what we need to do down here to stop both from happening again.

Dialog — something that has to happen before progress can be made.

Dialog — something that won’t happen when businesses have to worry about whether they will have windows and inventory the morning after a protest march.

Dialog — something that won’t happen when businesses are burned out simply because they happened to be located along the protest route.

Dialog — something that has to happen between all sides, including local businesses and government and community leaders.

As much as I dislike seeing anyone not standing during our National Anthem, it is the right of each and every one of us to choose whether we honor the nation by standing or not. It is something so many men and women in the military have given their lives for. Unfortunately, instead of facilitating the dialog, the media chooses to try to stir the pot with their coverage. They find the most inciting instead of insightful soundbites possible in their coverage and that is what plays.

It reminds me of when I was growing up. One of the local stations was known for what could only be called muckraking, yellow journalism at its finest. Beyond that, every Friday and Saturday night you could count on them finding the bloodiest murder scene or wreck to cover. Their weatherman smiled gleefully whenever discussing storms that did major damage. He all but danced with joy when a tornado moved through a community. Why? Because all that made for ratings and ratings meant they could charge more for advertising.

The problem was, people in the area started believing the DFW area was as bad as they were reporting. Even when the other stations reported on lowering crime stats, this one station kept fanning the flames. Finally, they were caught reusing footage — only a couple of times that I can recall — and the weatherman moved on. New management came in and slowly the emphasis went from the very worst to actually showing the occasional good news story. As the narrative changed, so did the way a number of folks looked at the area.

The media framed our outlook and it is trying to do so now, except this time it is on a national level. I’m not sure how we combat it. Actually I am. What I’m not sure is how effective it will be on a large-scale basis. The first thing we have to do is quit taking everything the media says at face value — and yes, there are still all too many people who do just that, especially if the media is hitting their hot buttons. The second thing we have to do is remind ourselves that there are always at least two sides to any story. Instead of rushing to judgment, especially when the two sides we are hearing are diametrically opposed, we need to gather the facts.

Yes, something has to be done to mend the rift in the social fabric of our country. I’m just not sure it can be mended as long as the media is more concerned about framing the news to meet its own narrative.

Another proof of what I’m saying is what is on the news as I write this. ABC came out and said that Trump’s business dealings with Russia over the years can and most likely will seriously impact, with the implication being it will negatively impact, the get tough with Russia stance the U. S. has had of late. While they have never worried about the blind trusts other candidates and politicians have set up over the years, now they have gone out to dig up someone who condemns Trump because how can it be a blind trust when the candidate knows what is in the blind trust? Pardon me, but each and every politician who has ever set up a blind trust has known what holdings were put in it. Remember, before the trust was set up, that person had been handling the businesses or at least getting reports about them. But that doesn’t fit the narrative, so it isn’t mentioned.

Because of the media and its desire to direct and make the news instead of simply reporting on it, the burden falls on us to discover what the facts are. No longer can we simply rely on the national and local news as reported by the mainstream media for information. We have to look to other sources and, gasp, we have to think. It is our responsibility to be an informed electorate and an informed citizenry.

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